Polk County, Iowa, home to Iowa's capital city, Des Moines, is located just a few miles southwest of the center of Iowa. It was named for James K. Polk, the 11th president of the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Polk County has a total area of 592 mi² (1,533 km²) including 23 mi² (58 km²) (3.81%) water with an estimated population in 2008 of 424,778, an increase of 14.4% from 2000.
Des Moines is located in the southwest corner of Polk County. The confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers in downtown Des Moines marks the southernmost advance of the glaciers during the last ice age. Thus, the land north of this confluence is generally flatter than that to the south, except for the river and creek valleys, which are quite scenic in many places.
Polk County has a supervisor form of government, as with all counties in Iowa, but also has a county manager.
While much of Polk County is still mostly rural with the primary use being agriculture, the Des Moines metro area is beginning to move northward and eastward into the rest of the county. This has resulted in the development of many rural acreages and several country subdivisions in addition to growth of the other cities in Polk County. Development along the I-35 north corridor is also changing the rural character of that portion of the county north of Des Moines.
There are 19 incorporated cities and one designated population center (DPC) in Polk County:
** -- Unincorporated area but not a DPC
*** -- County Seat
**** -- Carlisle lies in both Polk and Warren Counties
***** -- Farrar is a designated USPS post office but not incorporated nor a DPC
****** -- Sheldahl lies in Polk, Story and Boone Counties
Polk County has nine community school districts.
Counties neighboring Polk County are
Polk County Iowa History
The history of Polk County is essentially that of Des Moines, it's first Euro-American settlement. Prior to the coming of the US Army Dragoons in 1843, the land was occupied primarily by the Sac and Fox American Indian tribes. An 1842 treaty paid the Indians for the land that included what became Polk County.
Polk County was established as a political unit in 1846 when Iowa became a state.
Notable among early Polk County residents was James Jordan whose home near Valley Junction (now West Des Moines) was a stop on the famous "Underground Railroad" that assisted runaway slaves from slaveholding states in escaping to freedom.
Click here to learn more about Polk County Iowa History
Polk County Links
Eastern Polk County Regional Development, Inc.